0 comments on “11 Ways to Use Mindfulness for Unplugging & Sleeping Well”

11 Ways to Use Mindfulness for Unplugging & Sleeping Well

 

One of the lessons I learned during National Day of Unplugging last weekend was about sleeping. I discovered a better way to enjoy sleeping by turning my smartphone off and allowing myself to wake up without the alarm on Saturday and Sunday. Read my opinion piece on unplugging that was published in the Afro-American Newspaper to learn more.

Landing-Page-Header-SAW-2018

On Sunday evening, I decided to use Sleep Awareness Week (March 11-17) to add several mindful sleep practices to my daily routine. Check out the practices I used below. Since today is the last day of Sleep Awareness Week, consider trying one or more of them.

  1. Place your smartphone and digital devices in your living room, kitchen, or home office. Mute the sound on your phone ringer and notifications. If you can, turn the phone off. Use an alarm clock. Muting the sound on my phone and placing it in my living room really helped.
  2. Give yourself a few hours off from using social media, email or texting in the evenings. Set a curfew. Try 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. I tried a curfew of 11:15 p.m. to 8 a.m. on several days.
  3. Express gratitude for people and experiences. This practice opens my heart.
  4. Say a forgiveness prayer for yourself and others before you go to sleep at night. My forgiveness prayers help me release anger, disappointment, grudges, judgments, thoughts, and stories I have made up about myself and others. They help me clear my mind and cleanse my spirit and heart.
  5. Drink your favorite decaf tea before bed. I love to sprinkle turmeric in hot water or use Trader Joe’s turmeric and ginger tea.
  6. Use your favorite sheets and blankets on your bed. I love my purple sheets and cream blanket.
  7. If you are NOT allergic to scents, smudge yourself and your bedroom or home with a smudge stick to remove any negative energy. I use my smudge stick in the morning and evening.
  8. If you are NOT allergic to scents, burn your favorite incense or candle in your bedroom or home an hour or two before you sleep. You can also use a room freshener with essential oils to spray your bedroom or home. I like to use Mrs. Meyer’s lavender room freshener.
  9. Take an evening shower or bath to relax yourself. Showers are my favorites.
  10. Meditate for a 1, 5, 15, 20 or 30 minutes before going to sleep. Meditation with breathing exercises is a great mindfulness practice that can help you slow down and become aware of your thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations. It can also help you go within and connect to your higher self. I like to practice a short meditation while laying in child’s pose, one of my favorite yoga poses, before going to sleep. Listen to my #ThrivingMindfully Podcast Series for a guided mindfulness meditation. Here’s a guided compassion meditation to open your heart. Check out my Mindful Living podcast playlist for more resources.
  11. Try gentle yoga. Like I mentioned above, child’s pose helps me relax before sleep. Go to YouTube and try my teacher Faith Hunter’s gentle yoga session. Also, do a search for gentle yoga or restorative yoga for beginners on YouTube. Check out Yoga In Bed: 20 Asanas to Do in Pajamas by Edward Vilga, one of my favorite yoga books. Learn more about my journey as a gentle yoga teacher (includes my yoga, reiki, and meditation services) and my yoga-inspired novel, Love’s Troubadours (available on Amazon). My novel tells the story of Karma Francois, a 30-something yoga teacher who is on a self-discovery journey that allows her to heal, forgive, and reinvent her life with art, meditation, mindfulness, spirituality, therapy, yoga, travel, and the support of family and friends.

If you are unable to try these tips today, I encourage you to use Sleep Awareness Week as inspiration for getting more rest in your life in 2018. Try one or more of the tips and let me know what happens in the comment section.

Happy Unplugging and Sleeping!

Photo Credit: National Sleep Foundation

 

0 comments on “#BlackHistoryMonth Celebration of HBCUs & Black Sororities and Fraternities in My Novel Love’s Troubadours”

#BlackHistoryMonth Celebration of HBCUs & Black Sororities and Fraternities in My Novel Love’s Troubadours

HBCURising

Have you seen the documentary film, “Tell Them We Are Rising” that explores how historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have shaped American history, culture, and national identity? It was created by filmmaker Stanley Nelson and covers almost 170 years of history. You can watch it online on the PBS website until March 22.

“Tell Them We Are Rising” reminded me why I chose to attend Morgan State University and Howard University School of Law. As a proud HBCU alumna, I made sure the characters in my Lorraine Hansberry-inspired novel Love’s Troubadours are HBCU alumni. Love’s Troubadours main character Karma Francois is a graduate of Morgan State University just like me. Her twin sister Violet is a graduate of my alma mater, Howard University School of Law. Her mother is an alumna of Xavier University. Her cousins attended Spelman College and Morehouse College.

The documentary film also discussed the importance of Black sororities and fraternities. In my family, we have members of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, and Zeta Phi Beta Sorority. I celebrate these organizations and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, and Omega Psi Phi Fraternity in Love’s Troubadours.

Spoiler Alert: My main character Karma pledged the Beta Tau Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority at Morgan State University like yours truly. Her mother is also a Sigma (like my mom, great-grandmother, and great-aunt). Her cousins are members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority (like my great aunt) and Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity. Her best friend is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity (like my grandfather, great-uncle, and cousin). Her uncle is a member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Her aunt is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.

 

0 comments on “#BlackHistoryMonth Treat: How Playwright Lorraine Hansberry Inspired My Novel, Love’s Troubadours”

#BlackHistoryMonth Treat: How Playwright Lorraine Hansberry Inspired My Novel, Love’s Troubadours

LT-ALandLorraineHansberry

My debut novel, Love’s Troubadours was inspired by a speech given by activist and playwright Lorraine Hansberry in February 1964. She spoke to a Harlem-based group of aspiring young, gifted, and African American writers about the power to love in America. In her remarks, Hansberry stated,

“O, the things that we have learned in this unkind house that we have to tell the world about! Despair? Did someone say despair was a question in the world? Well then, listen to the sons of those who have known little else. If you wish to know the resiliency of this thing you would so quickly resign to mythhood, this thing called the human spirit … Life? Ask those who have tasted of it in pieces rationed out by enemies. Love? Ah, ask the troubadours who have come from those who have loved when all reason pointed to the uselessness and foolhardiness of love. Perhaps we shall be the teachers when it is done. Out of the depths of pain we have thought to be our sole heritage in this world-O, we know about love!”

She referred to African Americans as troubadours, the descendents of people who used the power of love to live through and overcome despair and insurmountable odds. She went on to urge the audience to seek wisdom from African Americans because of their capacity to love.

I first read about Hansberry’s speech in Salvation by bell hooks in 2001. Salvation discusses how African Americans have used the power of love to transform their lives and communities. hooks’ writings caused me to question how I could use my gifts as an artist and writer to promote love as a healing tool in the lives of individuals and communities in America. I answered that question by writing Love’s Troubadours, a novel that tells the story of Karma Francois, a 30-something museum curator and yoga teacher who loses her job, discovers family secrets after a loved one dies, and begins a healing journey as she relocates from New York City to Washington, DC. Learn more about her in the video below.

Karma learns many life lessons as she comes face-to-face with the choices she has made in her life and relationships. Watch the video below and learn about some of them.

Throughout her journey, she uses journaling, meditation, mindfulness, poetry, spirituality, therapy, and yoga to heal and love herself. Hansberry’s wisdom on mindful living inspired the way I wrote about Karma’s healing journey:

 “I wish to live because life has within it that which is good, that which is beautiful, and that which is love. Therefore, since I have known all of these things, I have found them to be reason enough and–I wish to live. Moreover, because this is so, I wish others to live for generations and generations and generations and generations.”

Watch the video below and learn how Karma’s healing journey transformed her idea of love in her life.

After reading Hansberry’s book, To Be Young, Gifted and Black, I made a conscious decision to use my novel’s characters to celebrate the beauty and diversity of people of African descent. Watch the video below and learn about the diverse characters.

 

Listen to a chapter excerpt from Love’s Troubadours that illustrates the diversity of African Americans when Karma walks into Mocha Hut, a coffee and tea café in her U Street neighborhood, and eavesdrops on a conversation.

 

0 comments on “Web Site Relaunch of My Novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One”

Web Site Relaunch of My Novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

Love's Troubadours - Karma: Book One
Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

Happy Monday,

Five years ago I launched my web site for my debut novel, Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (2007). Last year, I realized the site needed a makeover. Click here to check out the new look (very simple compared to the old site). Let me know what you think. And be sure to read the book summary below.

Book Summary:

Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One tells the story of Karma Francois, a thirtysomething Oakland-born BoHo B.A.P. (Bohemian Black American Princess) with Louisiana roots and urban debutante flair. The novel begins with Karma’s life in an uproar. Her relationships and the museum curator career that she struggled to form in New York City have crumbled, leaving no viable options to rebuild. Relocating to Washington, DC, Karma  struggles with denial, depression, and debt. A lack of full-time employment opportunities forces her to craft a gypsy existence as a Jill of Many Trades:
yoga teacher, art consultant, and freelance curator at Howard University Gallery
of Art. Unable and unwilling to appreciate these jobs as gifts, she wallows in a
pool of lost identity-and doesn’t see a way to keep from drowning. When she looks in the mirror, Karma  sees a woman whose choices have dishonored her true character. Now, for the first time in her life, Karma must learn to see herself for who she really
is. To purchase a copy on Amazon.com, click here.

Enjoy!

Ananda

PS: Watch the short videos from my 2007 book party.

0 comments on “Great News! Ananda featured in 3/22 Examiner.com article: “Novelist gives book marketing tips for fiction writers using social media””

Great News! Ananda featured in 3/22 Examiner.com article: “Novelist gives book marketing tips for fiction writers using social media”

Greeting All,

Great News! Nordette Adams, the African-American Books Examiner for Examiner.com, wrote an amazing article about yours truly today: “Novelist gives book marketing tips for fiction writers using social media.”

Nordette also interviewed me on the March 20th episode of We Got Word on BlogTalkRadio.  Click here to listen to the interview. We had a great time talking about healing fiction, my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One, and social media tips for authors and bloggers.  I also discussed my new writing project Sisterhood, the Blog: Soundbytes from the 21st Century Women’s Online Revolution.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude,

Ananda

1 comment on “Part #2 – Watch videos from Ananda’s 3/14 book talk/signing @ Historical Society of DC”

Part #2 – Watch videos from Ananda’s 3/14 book talk/signing @ Historical Society of DC

Happy Weekend!

Here’s part two of my videos from the book talk/signing for my memoir That Which Awakens Me held on March 14 at the Historical Society of Washington, DC.  be sure to tell me which video you liked best. Enjoy!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for Spring Weather in DC,

Ananda

VIDEOS FROM BOOK READING

1) Ananda discusses who lives inside her (her archetypes/personalities)

2) Ananda discusses spirituality and service

3) Ananda discusses her work as an artist-in-residence for Smith Farm Center for Healing and the Arts at Howard University Hospital

4) Ananda discusses her life as an artist and poet living in DC in the 90s

5) Ananda discusses her debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

6) Angie Hudgins’ promo for That Which Awakens Me

1 comment on “Part #1 – Watch videos from Ananda’s 3/14 book talk/signing @ Historical Society of DC”

Part #1 – Watch videos from Ananda’s 3/14 book talk/signing @ Historical Society of DC

Happy Monday!

My book talk and signing for my poetic memoir That Which Awakens Me was held yesterday at the Historical Society of Washington, DC.  It was a lot of fun and a HUGE success!!!! Many thanks to my sistalove Karen Sallis for organizing the event with Rosemary Reed and the Society’s staff! Big thanks to everyone who attended the event!!!!

If you missed the event, watch the videos below.  More videos will be posted in the coming days.

You can purchase That Which Awakens Me and my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One on Amazon.com: http://tiny.cc/7uFsg and http://tinyurl.com/yfxtqyq.

Historical Society of DC Book Talk Videos:

1) My infomercial for my March 14th book reading

2) My vulnerabilities as a writer

3) The importance of naming and defining myself

4) The power of six-word memoirs in my writing process

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude,

Ananda

0 comments on “Great Moments from the Weekend: Ananda’s Artist Date @ Elizabeth Catlett in Mexico exhibit and its connection to her books That Which Awakens Me & Love’s Troubadours”

Great Moments from the Weekend: Ananda’s Artist Date @ Elizabeth Catlett in Mexico exhibit and its connection to her books That Which Awakens Me & Love’s Troubadours

Photo Credit: Fern Logan - http://the-artists.org/artist/Elizabeth-Catlett

Elizabeth Catlett

Hi All,

This weekend, I went to see an exhibit featuring the work of Elizabeth Catlett at the Mexican Cultural Institute on 16th Street in northwest DC. Click here to learn more about the Catlett exhibit. It closes on May 29. If you are in DC, consider attending Professor David Driscoll’s lecture about Catlett’s work on March 27 at 3:00 p.m. at the Mexican Cultural Institute.  It’s free!

Catlett is one of my favorite artists.  She was born in DC in 1915 and is  a graduate of Howard University (like me!). Click here to learn more about Catlett.

I have given the world my songs by Elizabeth Catlett

The highlight of my visit to the Mexican Cultural Institute was seeing Catlett’s I have given the world my songs.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this piece of art.  It inspired a poem in my new book That Which Awakens Me: A Creative Woman’s Poetic Memoir of Self-Discovery. Click here to listen to me read the poem. FYI – I also discuss Catlett’s work in my novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One.

Click on the Cinchcast audio blog to hear me talk about my visit to the Mexican Cultural Institute.

3 comments on “The influence of India.Arie’s music and Spelman College on Ananda’s novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One”

The influence of India.Arie’s music and Spelman College on Ananda’s novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

Hi All!

India.Arie’s music has been a powerful influence in my creative work.  Her first CD Acoustic Soul (2001) inspired me to keep moving forward during my novel writing journey.

Karma: Aham Prema (2005) by Ananda Leeke 

(Aham Prema means I am divine love in Sanskrit)

 

Her composition “Strength, Courage, and Wisdom” became a personal mantra for the main character Karma Francois in my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One (2007). 

I mentioned the song in Love’s Troubadours because India’s music chronicles a woman’s journey of self-discovery.  It vibrates with authenticity and vulnerability.  Surrender and self-acceptance are key themes.  Love’s Troubadours embodies all of these things.  Karma’s journey explores a woman’s pain, passion, and power with authenticity, vulnerability, surrender, and self-acceptance. To learn more, visit www.lovestroubadours.com. The book is available on Amazon.com.

Spelman College is also featured in Love’s Trouabdours.  Several characters are Spelman graduates (Karma’s twin sister and cousin are Spelmanites).  To learn more about Spelman, watch the video below.

Spelman College Museum of Fine Art is mentioned in Love’s Troubadours too.  Watch the video below featuring a tour of the Museum  given by its director Dr. Andrea Barnwell , an art historian, writer, and critic.   I was able to visit the Museum and see the exhbit featured in the video in October 2009.  AMAZING! 

FYI – Art plays a major role in Karma’s life. It inspires, consoles, and teaches her. My novel offers you a wonderful opportunity to look at life through Karma’s eyes as an art enthusiast and museum curator. Through her eyes, you will learn about exciting artists and photographers from the African Diaspora, Americas (USA and Mexico), Europe, and Japan such as Lois Mailou Jones, Kara Walker, Renee Stout, Yayoi Kusama, Faith Ringgold, Chris Ofili, Ansel Adams, Marion Perkins, Elizabeth Catlett, Francisco Mora, Alexander Calder, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, Maria Izquierdo, Jean Michel Basquiat, Andre Derain, Annie Lee, Betye Saar, Alison Saar, Amalia Amaki, Joyce Scott, Lorna Simpson, Constantin Brancusi. Eldzier Cortor, Amedeo Modigliani, Sister Gertrude Morgan, Archibald Motley, Adrian Piper, Hughie Lee Smith, and Charles W. White. Read the art blog post: http://kiamshacom.blogspot.com/2007/09/blessings-all-my-debut-novel-loves.html.

Enjoy your day!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for India.Arie and Spelman College,

Ananda

1 comment on “Tulane Professor/Author Shayne Lee reviews Ananda’s novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One”

Tulane Professor/Author Shayne Lee reviews Ananda’s novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One

Happy Snow Wednesday in D.C.! 

Yes it is snowing in the wonderful District of Columbia.  I am loving the peace and quiet that comes from snow days!  It is giving me an opportunity to sleep  a lot, have long yummy yoga/meditation/Reiki sessions, read magazines and books, chat with friends on Skype, and discover what is happening online.

Shayne Lee

Yesterday I learned Shayne Lee, an author (one of my favorites) and Tulane University professor, wrote an incredibly generous review of my debut novel Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One on Amazon.com.  See below. Let me know what you think.

Enjoy your day and week!

Peace, Creativity, Compassion, and Gratitude for the peace of snow days,

Ananda

Shayne Lee’s Amazon.com Review

 An Intriguing work of art, February 9, 2010
By  Shayne Lee (Houston (by way of New Orleans)) – See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Amazon Verified Purchase(What’s this?)

Great artistic efforts do more than just entertain, they enlighten. Love’s Troubadours was highly entertaining, but also challenged me to explore the greater context of the world around me, which is in my humble opinion the hallmark of great art. I learned much about my own strivings and angst while perusing life through the eyes of a hip, chic, post-soul, educated yoga-loving, highly spiritual Black American Princess named Karma. There are no canned characters in this masterpiece, only complex women and men dealing with the vicissitudes of life through their inimitable postmodern brands of spirituality and social perspectives. Karma teaches us much about perseverance as well as about self-transcendence and spiritual consciousness. One of the most fascinating aspects of this book is its fresh appropriation of black middleclass sensibilities. Karma is an intuitive and progressive woman and her tastes and interests reflect a mélange of black middleclass tropes often unexplored in contemporary cinema and books. Ananda Leeke fastens our consciousness to a world of black female sophistication, and depicts Karma as an apotheosis of urban-chic and self-transcendence. Leeke takes us on an entertaining and enlightening journey as we watch an incredibly complex protagonist like Karma navigate through the matrices of her personal reformation, negotiate transitional changes, overcome family and relationship challenges and emotional angst, and emerge as a more evolved and emotionally whole woman. This is a well-written book and a fascinating look at an underrepresented portion of contemporary black middle-class life and spirituality.